What makes the water come out of the sinks, bathtubs, or showers in your house? Simple: the water in your house’s plumbing is pressurized. If your house follows the standards set in the Uniform Plumbing Code, it will be pressurized to about 50-70 pounds per square inch (PSI). If you don’t know your home’s water pressure, you can measure it with a water pressure gauge. These can be purchased at most hardware stores, and will attach to one of your faucets.
If you get your water from a city or other municipality’s water grid, the water actually comes to your house at a higher pressure than your home plumbing can handle. If you were to connect your house’s plumbing directly to the city’s water supply, it would soon destroy your water pipes and appliances. So how do homes handle this? They need a pressure reduction device installed between their internal plumbing and the city water pipes – this device will reduce the water pressure to an acceptable level for your home.
Conversely, if you get your water from a well, the water pressure is much too low for your house. Your well will simply pull the water out of the ground, but it won’t pressurize it at all. If you hooked your home plumbing directly into your well, you would get little more than a trickle out of all your faucets, bathtubs and so on. If your faucet was physically located above your water store – say, on the second level of your house – you wouldn’t get any water out at all! So instead of the pressure reduction devices that your city friends’ houses need, your house will actually require a pressure addition device. This device is basically a large tank that fills up with your well water and increases its pressure to the correct level for your home plumbing.
Pressure reduction devices and pressure addition devices, like any other piece of home equipment, will eventually wear out over time. If your pressure addition device starts to wear out, you will begin to notice reduced water flow in your household’s faucets, especially on higher floors. If the problem remains unchecked, it will put additional stress on your well pump, which will eventually cause it to burn out.
If you have a pressure reducer device that is starting to wear out, the water pressure in your home plumbing will start to increase beyond its recommended levels. One of the first victims of this increased pressure are your appliance pipes and any other soft, non-metal pipes – they can burst and flood your home. The increased water pressure will also cause leaks in your pipe joints and toilet valves. In a worst-case scenario, even the metal pipes in your house can burst.
If you need to inspect, repair or replace your house’s water pressure device, it is better to call a licensed plumber than to try and do it yourself. Licensed plumbers will be familiar with your region’s water pressure regulations and can examine your home’s internal water pressure specifications. Then, whether you need a repair or complete replacement, they will be able to plan and implement a solution that is appropriate for your personal housing situation.